“That’s my idee exactly; but it’s uncommon hard to settle which of them that stays at home you’ll trust your money to. You see Betsey was always pesterin’ me to give to charity things; but I told her it was better to save up and give it in a handsome lump that looked well, and was a credit to you. When she was dyin’ she reminded me on’t, and I promised I’d do suthing before I follered. I’ve been turnin’ on’t over in my mind for a number of months, and I don’t seem to find any thing that’s jest right. You’ve ben round among the charity folks lately accordin’ to your tell, now what would you do if you had a tidy little sum to dispose on?”
“Help the Freed people.”
The answer came so quick that it nearly took the old gentleman’s breath away, and he looked at his niece with his mouth open after an involuntary, “Sho!” had escaped him.
“David helped give them their liberty, and I would so gladly help them to enjoy it!” cried Christie, all the old enthusiasm blazing up, but with a clearer, steadier flame than in the days when she dreamed splendid dreams by the kitchen fire.
“Well, no, that wouldn’t meet my views. What else is there?” asked the old man quite unwarmed by her benevolent ardor.
“Wounded soldiers, destitute children, ill-paid women, young people struggling for independence, homes, hospitals, schools, churches, and God’s charity all over the world.”
“That’s the pesky part on ’t: there’s such a lot to choose from; I don’t know much about any of ’em,” began Uncle Enos, looking like a perplexed raven with a treasure which it cannot decide where to hide.
“Whose fault is that, sir?”
The question hit the old man full in the conscience, and he winced, remembering how many of Betsey’s charitable impulses he had nipped in the bud, and now all the accumulated alms she would have been so glad to scatter weighed upon him heavily. He rubbed his bald head with a yellow bandana, and moved uneasily in his chair, as if he wanted to get up and finish the neglected job that made his helplessness so burdensome.
“I’ll ponder on ’t a spell, and make up my mind,” was all he said, and never renewed the subject again.
But he had very little time to ponder, and he never did make up his mind; for a few months after Christie’s long visit ended, Uncle Enos “was took suddin’,” and left all he had to her.
Not an immense fortune, but far larger than she expected, and great was her anxiety to use wisely this unlooked-for benefaction. She was very grateful, but she kept nothing for herself, feeling that David’s pension was enough, and preferring the small sum he earned so dearly to the thousands the old man had hoarded up for years. A good portion was put by for Ruth, something for “mother and Letty” that want might never touch them, and the rest she kept for David’s work, believing that, so spent, the money would be blest.